English Names

Doug Yanega dyanega at pop.ucr.edu
Mon Jun 7 18:19:11 EDT 1999

Roger K. wrote:

>Butterflies in the UK have had
>their vernacular names for several centuries also (in most cases), which may
>account for their relatively stable nature. UK moth names are also several
>centuries old; were sparingly used among a small circle of moth enthusiasts and
>so stayed stable and remain so in more popular times as they are well

This reminds me - can anyone explain exactly why it is that gardeners have
used latin names since time immemorial, and seem perfectly comfortable with
them, while no other type of "layman naturalist" seems to even believe it
is *possible* to learn them? I've seen untold complaints over the years
about how impossible it is to learn latin names, yet there are millions of
gardeners who spout latin names left and right - many probably not even
realizing that they ARE using scientific names! If *they* can have a
tradition of using latin names, why can't anyone else? If I can talk about
chrysanthemums, rhododendrons, and hydrangeas and be understood by any Joe
Gardener or grade school child, why can't I talk about Syntomeida and
Hypercompe and Automolis with Joe Lepidopterist, and teach those names to
kids? We don't NEED common names any more than the gardeners do...which is
to say, probably not at all.


Doug Yanega       Dept. of Entomology           Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California - Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521
phone: (909) 787-4315
  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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